- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

INDIA

Stray violence mars national day fete

NEW DELHI — India hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday at Republic Day celebrations marked by sporadic violence in which two suspected Islamist militants were killed in Kashmir and a paramilitary was blown up by a land mine in eastern Orissa state.

Security forces were on high alert throughout the day amid tension in the northeast and in Kashmir, where hundreds protested against Indian security forces a day after a man was killed by troops in apurported fake-gun battle, police and witnesses said.

PAKISTAN

Suicide blast kills 2 outside U.S. hotel

ISLAMABAD — A suicide bomber killed a security guard and himself in an attack outside the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital yesterday, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said.

The blast at about 2:40 p.m. was just hours before an Indian High Commission function to celebrate Republic Day was due to be held at the hotel. The High Commission said the function would be held as planned.

At least six persons were wounded, and there were no foreigners among them, officials said.

The Marriott is one of Islamabad’s main hotels and is frequented by foreign diplomats and businessmen, making it a potential target for militants angered by President Pervez Musharraf’s post-September 11, 2001, alliance with the United States and his efforts to make peace with India.

AFGHANISTAN

Man who led razing of statues killed

KABUL — An assailant shot to death an Afghan lawmaker who, under the former Taliban regime, oversaw the destruction of two Buddha statues carved into a cliff.

Maulavi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, who was the Taliban’s governor of Bamiyan province when the fifth-century Buddha statues were blown up with dynamite and artillery in March 2001, was killed on his way to Friday prayers in Kabul, police said. He was elected in 2005 to represent the northern province of Samangan in Afghanistan’s parliament.

Meanwhile, a NATO air strike destroyed a Taliban command post in southern Afghanistan, killing a suspected senior militant leader, the alliance said yesterday.

Weekly notes …

Sri Lanka yesterday rejected claims by Human Rights Watch that its security forces supported recruitment of child soldiers, but pledged an “independent” probe into the charges. The New York-based group released a report Wednesday accusing the military of collaborating with a breakaway rebel faction to recruit children in its battle against the main rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. … Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s wife gave birth Thursday to a son they named Mirwais. He is the first child of Mr. Karzai, 49, and his wife Zeenat Quraishi, a gynecologist. The couple married in 1999.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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